Qatar Earns Double Gold in Dressage at 2011 Pan Arab Games

Sat, 12/24/2011 - 10:30
2011 Pan Arab Games

Host nation Qatar took double-gold in dressage at the 12th Arab Games staged in Doha, Qatar from 6 to 23 December 2011. This was the first time for Qatar to host the event which is staged on a four-year cycle and embraces 24 different sports. Khalifa International Stadium was the main competition venue, but the equestrian activities took place at the Al-Shaqab Arena and at the Mesaieed Endurance Course, with keen rivalry in all three disciplines.

Equestrian sport joined the Arab Games at Rabat, Malta in 1985 and subsequently visited Damascus, Syria in 1992, Beirut, Lebanon in 1997, Amman, Jordan in 1999, Algiers, Algeria in 2004 and Cairo, Egypt in 2007. Dressage has been included on the schedule since 2007. FEI President, HRH Princess Haya, won individual Jumping bronze at Damascus in 1992.

Qatari riders lived up to expectations when taking Dressage Team gold ahead of the Lebanon in silver medal position and Iraq in bronze. Ground Jury members Raphael Saleh (FRA), Juan Carlos Campos (ESP), Fouad Hamoud (ALG), Hans Christian Mathiesen (DEN) and President, Carlos Lopes (POR) all gave their highest mark to the experienced Rashid Al Marri who has competed in two Asian Games, and who partnered his new ride Paso Doble (by Jet Set D) to a score of 68.784.

Team-mates Mohammed Al Marri (Brentano van de Zuuthoeve) and Abdulla Al Marri (on Mabruk (by Hemmingway)) produced the next two best results to secure the team honours while the fourth, and youngest, Qatari competitor, 28-year-old Ahmed Al Badi (Argentino), also achieved a good mark of 61.946. This was fractionally less than the 61.975 awarded to Lebanon's Georges Bitar and Silvan, but there were only three riders on both the Lebanese and Iraqi teams, and the final tally of 58.153 left the Lebanon trailing Qatar by more than eight points.

"This is the first Arab Games gold medal for Qatar", said Rashid Al Marri. "We are very happy because we missed it in China (at the Asian Games)."

Abdulla al-Marri credited the success to the training they had put in Netherlands. “I feel the success has come due to the hard work that we had put in. Because of our training in Netherlands, we had to miss Ramadan and Eid, but all I can say that it was worth it,” said al-Marri.

Individual Gold for Mohammed Al Marri

Qatar's Al Marri family were again well to the fore on the Individual medal podium when 20-year old Mohammed Al Marri claimed gold, with the judging panel in full agreement as the 20-year-old was awarded the winning score of 70.843% for his James Bond freestyle. Rashid had to settle for silver with 68.990% this time out following a stumble on the final diagonal by Paso Doble, while Miriam Henschke's student Farah Al Khojai, riding Mazurka Grafin (by Van Deyk x Matador) for the United Arab Emirates, broke the Qatari grip on the medals when clinching bronze with a 66.667% earning test that began with great flow but lost some of its impact in the canter movements.

Al Khojai joked afterwards that her horse "almost gave me a heart attack!". She said "this was not our best day...things went haywire with the music because we had to change it to fit the test. With music you always have to catch up and slow down - but it worked out in the end!".

The newly-crowned Individual champion was delighted with his result. " “The horse came from abroad a week ago and was tired, but it has come in good condition after taking a rest, so my coach and I chose this powerful and lively music. I expected to be in the top three, but not to be in first place, and I'm very happy about that", Mohammed Al Marri commented.

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